It is unsurprising that physical retail is in decline, but the extent to which it is suffering is somewhat unprecedented. According to recent figures from PWC, a record net 2481 stores left the high street in 2018 – 40 percent more than in 2017. The number of store openings dropped by 17.4 percent, while the rate of closures was at nine per day. This changing landscape has made retailers re-evaluate their strategies in order to remain profitable and engaging to customers. Many have shifted their focuses online, while others have closed stores.
With this fragile marketplace in mind – and an increasingly technology-led proposition – retailers do not want to deal with the financial or reputational cost of suffering any sort of attack – cyber or otherwise. As such, it is incredibly important that they invest in security. It was with this in mind we posed the questions to key decision makers about what they consider when making a security purchase for our research study: ‘The State of Trust in Security Companies Barometer’. Here are the key take-outs:
Cyber is king
Perhaps indicative of the increased digitalisation of retail, the sector is focused on cybersecurity. Nearly all (89 percent) of key decision makers said that a security vendor’s approach to cybersecurity is an important part of any purchasing decision. It also should be noted that there have been a number of high-profile attacks directed at the industry (Dixons Carphone, Superdrug), so cybersecurity is a particular sore spot right now, and vendors must therefore be able to demonstrate strategies to halt this issue.
Quality, quality, quality
The retail industry also places a strong emphasis on the quality of a product, with quality being rated as the most important factor impacting a purchasing decision. The range of products that a security vendor can provide was also highlighted by 87 percent of respondents, the largest proportion of any industry. It is worth noting, however, that nearly two thirds (69 percent) of respondents also value vendors that specialise in a single solution. Contradictions are to be expected when looking at an industry as dynamic as retail, but the greater emphasis placed on suppliers that can provide a wide range of solutions can perhaps be explained by the assets that any one business in the industry has to protect, from customer records, to store premises and supply chains.
Media attention and analyst reports can be influential
A majority of retail respondents (84 percent) agreed that they would take the level of positive news coverage into account when evaluating a possible new vendor. This was the highest of any sector, showing they keep a keen eye on the news agenda; not perhaps surprising considering the sheer volume of headlines the sector has generated of late, with good news stories rarely taking up column inches. At the same time, however, retail and leisure respondents also placed a great deal of emphasis on analyst reports with 60 percent highlighting them as the source they were most likely to take into account, again, more than any other industry.
Where you are matters
There has been a great deal of attention, over the past couple of years, about the geographical positioning of security vendors. The retail sector has clearly been paying attention to that news, with 64 percent of respondents saying that a vendor’s country of origin influences their decision making. However, a vendor being part or wholly state-owned was highlighted as a less important factor, with only 27 percent answering that it would stop them doing business with that vendor.
The retail sector is going through a great deal of change, but they need security more than ever. Knowing what these key decision makers want is essential for any vendors looking to break into the space. By reading ‘The State of Trust in Security Companies Barometer’, security vendors can make sure that they are on course to be successful, no matter how retail evolves.
By Louise Stewart-Muir